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EXCLUSIVE | Rami Rabia sheds light on failure to reach Olympics
Egypt U23 captain Rami Rabia reveals the reasons why the team failed to reach the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.
Egypt suffered a humiliating series of results following two draws with Algeria and Nigeria as well as a loss against Mali to exit the tournament after finishing bottom place in the group.
On the circumstances the team faced in Senegal, Rabia said: “I really wanted to play at the Olympics. Luck was not on our side for the whole tournament. A team can suffer from bad luck for a match or so but throughout all matches, luck was not on our side.
“The players were not expecting this. We were in shock. We were asking ourselves what was going on during the matches but there was no answer.
Several players were expected to take the tournament by storm like Kahraba, Ramadan Sobhy and Mostafa Fathi but they failed to reproduce some of their impressive displays during the tournament.
“Some players were expecting to perform well. Someone like Kahraba was telling me to cheer the team on, motivate them but we all did not feel well. It was very weird.
“We really tried our best but it was weird.
Hossam El-Badry came under heavy criticism following the team’s performance but Rabia defended the former Al Ahly boss’ decisions.
“Hossam El-Badry was not at fault. Anyone in his shoes would’ve picked the same lineups.
“Hussein Ragab was picked over Salem because he was playing regularly for his club while Mosaad Awad was preferred in goal for his stature.
“I told El-Badry that Karim Mamdouh should start but he replied by saying the player just returned from a long layoff through injury and so he wanted to use him when our opponents were tired.
The 22-year-old was upset by the pitch conditions in Senegal, keeping in mind the team played their matches on artificial pitches.
“The CAF should do something about the pitches. We’re not used to play on artificial grounds in Egypt then we go to a tournament like this and play on artificial grounds.
“And when the weaker teams qualify to the Olympics and fail to perform everyone says African teams are weak, but they don’t know or realize the truth,” Rabia continued.
Several players were missing such as Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’, Amr Warda and Karim Hafez who are regulars in the U23 team.
“Their presence wouldn’t have made much of a difference. We had a very good team, better players than the other teams had but in every match, it was not our day,” Rabia concluded.
It is worth noting that Rami Rabia missed the 2012 Olympic Games in London through back injury.